Bruce Moffat, a great-great-great grandson of Zimbabwe’s earliest white missionary, Robert Moffat, has won a protracted court battle over the ownership of a farm the Moffats have worked since 1910.
Oakland Farm, a 216-hectare property in Insiza district, 400km southwest of Harare, had been the subject of a dispute between Moffat (66) and Sibongile Shava, whose husband had been the official driver of Zimbabwe’s late former vice-president, Joshua Nkomo.
Shava had been trying to take over the property since 2015 but Moffat had resisted. In her court papers, she had accused him of staying illegally on land for which she had a government offer letter.
Appearing before Bulawayo magistrate, Adeline Mbeure, last week, Moffat pleaded not guilty. Mbeure found Moffat not guilty and acquitted him.
Bruce is a grandson of Howard Unwin Moffat, the second prime minister of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), from 1927 to 1933. The former premier bought the farm in question.
Scotsman Robert Moffat built Zimbabwe’s first mission station at Inyathi, 100km north of Bulawayo, in 1859. The London Missionary Society leader had befriended Mzilikazi, the Ndebele king who ruled the western parts of a territory of what is present-day Zimbabwe.
In March 2015, Shava took Bruce to the High Court seeking his eviction from the farm. She argued that she had been allocated the property in 2014 by the government. It was originally 3 000ha in extent but portions of it have been taken over by resettled farmers since 2000.